Making the right decision for a British School in Spain
Spain is a developed country in Western Europe and most of the laws and regulations are either identical or at the least very similar to the UK and other mature member states of The EU.
We have seen in the Euro Weekly News recently of an apparent reputable school closing down, leaving parents significantly out of pocket by taking fees for the current term. The story gets worse, the examination fees were not paid so GCSE and A level results are void. Unfortunately, this is not the first time this has happened and we fear it will not be the last.
This is a terrible situation and can only reflect unscrupulous individuals in their quest to make a “quick buck”.
So the question is, how do you avoid this type of problem and surprisingly enough, it is quite simple and straight forward.
All schools in Spain have to be registered and approved by the education authority of the region the school is based in. In Marbella it is The Junta de Andalucía education department. Without this licence, a school is not allowed to open its doors. There is no temporary licence. Any new school has to provide an approved architectural project to ensure the facilities are of the standard to accommodate children of the age range the school offers.
The Junta de Andalucía will also inspect whether the Spanish Language Department is of the sufficient high standard to allow Spanish children to enter the School. If it is not, the School will only be licenced for foreigners.
Also, the local Town Hall has to inspect the premises to ensure that Health and Safety is adequate and that the building is located correctly for a school to operate from. This is an extremely important document. They check points such as fire escapes, fire extinguishers, disabled access, disabled toilets, emergency lighting etc.etc.
So when you view a school ask to see these documents. If they are not available, ask why? Incidentally there is no reason why they would not be available if the school is legally open.
It does take time for the authorities to locate illegal schools, but they do close them down.
So how do I satisfy myself, that the school I choose is a safe place for my child, is monitored and inspected on a regular basis for curriculum and health and safety?
In our experience, we highly recommend choosing a school that is a member of NABSS (National Association of British Schools in Spain). This association is the only British Association of Schools recognised by the Spanish Government. The annual conference arranges teacher workshops to ensure that member schools staff are updated with the National Curriculum of England and Wales. It is also attended by The British Ambassador.
When your child attends a NABSS school, he or she can move seamlessly between them.
Also NABSS has a code of ethics of how the school should operate and provide honesty and decency to all schools, parents and children it has dealings with.
NABSS will check a member is up to date with its documentation, teachers are qualified correctly and that the school is a correct and decent place to send your child.
Although NABSS are requested to inspect all British Schools in Spain, an inspection report does not mean it is a member. If it is not on this site ask why? NABSS Schools Directoryy.
Schools wishing to be a member of NABSS have to be approved by all members to ensure that the “code of ethics” and quality expected from a NABSS member is upheld.
As a school we are committed to keeping up the high standard of education in Spain and we feel that the information we have provided will assist all parents that are looking for British education to avoid pitfalls that may happen.
Please don’t just take our word for this, please feel free to contact us or any other NABSS member school, which can be found on the NABSS Website.
The International School Estepona is the only member of NABSS in Estepona.